Four Israeli Jews, four Palestinians, sailing and climbing together in Antarctica, on their way to the top of an unnamed mountain, there to choose the name the peak will be called forever.
     Here is another day, excerpted from their Daily Log.
     Quiet time after the storm.  Relating and reflecting.  Catching sight of Antarctica in the distance.
     Good spirit.  But same questions and same answers, wondering what could become "new" for them and their peoples.
     Photos are at .
     The full version of their Daily Log is at .

BREAKING THE ICE -- Daily Log -- Tuesday, 6 January 2004

Tuesday, 6 January, 2004

Making Peace with the Sea

We've discovered. . .the sea has a rhythm of its own. . .sailing forces us to re-evaluate the meaning of time. . .Five days at sea, progressing slowly toward Antarctica. . .opens us to new enlightenment. . .an experience not unlike those that people have had in the deserts of the Holy Land, from the time of the ancient Jewish Essenes, who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Judean Wilderness and Jesus, who resisted the temptations of Satan there for forty days, to our own times, when campers trek the Negev Desert and populate the beaches of Sinai, seeking and finding a deeper level of serenity.

This is what has begun to happen to most of us as we sail further and further from the constant turmoil of the Middle East. All of us suddenly have the time to sit and talk, to observe and contemplate.

Some of the team's time is spent in friendly conversation. . . some of it in heated debate. . .basic questions that have fueled more than a century of conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Who is right and who is wrong? Who does the land really belong to. . .why has it been so difficult to strike a compromise that will enable their two peoples to live in peace? Can they learn to trust one another? Can they learn to forgive? How can they heal the wounds of the bereaved and solve the problems of the dispossessed? The same questions arise time after time. . .The same opinions emerge, the same stalemates.  But, while while there may be disagreement here there is little apparent anger. That, too, may have something to do with the calming effect of the sea.

Just as Doron, Ziad, Olfat, Yarden, Suleiman, Avihu, Heskel and Nasser slip into this newfound tranquility, they are startled awake and gripped by excitement. . .they catch sight of a duo of humpback whales breaking the surface in the still waters of the Gerlache Strait. Pelagic Australis cuts its engines, news of the whale sighting is shouted. . .only three sounds are heard -- the deep whoosh of the whales blowing out air, the 'oohs' and 'aahs' of the expedition team members, and the constant clicking of cameras. . .then Yarden Fanta's voice, tinged with her Ethiopian accent. . ."Look, look! There's a third one! It's a baby!?"

Watching the humpbacks for almost an hour. . .coming to understand their cycle of breathing and diving. . .the pungent scent of their steamy, fish-scented exhalations. . .the sun comes out from behind the clouds, breaking the monotony of grey skies that have accompanied us since we set sail from Chile. The moment is almost too perfect. . .another is about to follow.

A tiny iceberg. . .low in the water -- one of dozens we've seen in the last two days. . .we detect movement: a small flock of Chinstrap penguins. . .diving off it to search for fish in the surrounding sea. . .we pull alongside. . .we discover a small pond of crystal clear water in the middle of the iceberg. . .penguins bathing in it. . .their own private luxury liner, complete with swimming pool.

We are so caught up in the excitement of this utterly beautiful morning that we almost fail to notice: just ahead and off to the left, the coast of Antarctica has come into view. . .the bases of black mountains, their slopes covered in snow and their peaks shrouded by low-lying clouds. We are almost at our destination.

Ahead of us lay days of exploration and challenge -- coping with the elements and learning how to work together in a way that Israelis and Palestinians rarely do, anywhere on Earth.